Inexpensive RFID tags may be seeing more use in the consumer world, thanks to printable electronic polymers. Available at 1 cent each, the tags can be used to monitor stock and reportedly may reduce inventory costs by up to 10% and staff costs by 20%. Flexible polymer circuits would allow tags to be printed directly onto, or into, low-cost packages during manufacturing. Wal-Mart has already requested its top 100 suppliers to use RFID tags by 2005.
Producing high-quality end-production metal parts with additive manufacturing for applications like aerospace and medical requires very tightly controlled processes and materials. New standards and guidelines for machines and processes, materials, and printed parts are underway from bodies such as ASTM International.
Engineers at the University of San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering have designed biobatteries on commercial tattoo paper, with an anode and cathode screen-printed on and modified to harvest energy from lactate in a person’s sweat.
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